This week saw the news that EDF Energy is to cut its typical gas bill for UK domestic customers by 5%, from February[1]. Late in 2011 it was reported that complaints to the company had risen by 91% in a year[2] and an annual customer satisfaction survey, carried out by Which?, showed only 43% of EDF customers said they were satisfied with the company's service or likely to recommend it to others[3]. It is easy to single out individual poor performance at one time or another, but EDF are not alone. Customer complaints have been dominating the news recently with the inevitable result of the erosion of consumer trust across organisations.

Here at CCA, we know all too well about the wide range of processes and structures – good and bad – which exist for managing complaints, but what we are really interested in is the opportunities, as well as challenges, they present for organisations. Just before the close of the year, we released our CCA Research Council Whitepaper ‘Global Complaints Strategies’ to Industry Council members[4]. Within this Mike Havard, director of Ember Services, posed the question “Are we really looking at customer complaints in the most effective way for, and across, the organisation?”  The answer is clearly no and because of this we are missing out on a raft of insights about our products and services.

There is a continuing common mismatch between the customer satisfaction levels being measured and reported within organisations and the reality of the customer experience. Recent CCA research sponsored by Verint, ‘ One Step Closer to Customers’ reported the findings of an Ipsos MORI consumer survey which painted a picture of consumers who are both frustrated and cynical about the effectiveness of current customer feedback methods. Notably, 44% of UK adults believe that most organisations do not take notice of or really care what their customers think[5]. The issue of measuring how content customers are remains at the heart of the work we are carrying out and, to this end, we have been undertaking exciting work with the Customer Experience Council.  We will be continuing this work during 2012 and launching our revised benchmarking model with support from senior council members.

What is clear is that the role of front line staff in customer contact centres has become ever more challenging in these conditions which is why the CCA Global Standard© provides organisations with guidance to encourage and support the development of professionalism and customer service delivery. It offers key principles to ensure that the requirements and guidelines reflect the latest customer focused approach being taken by today's contact centre operators.

We want to help you and your organisations better listen to and interpret the ‘voice of the customer’ provide enhanced customer experience during 2012. As ever we would love to hear your views so please do not hesitate to contact us with any idea, questions and comments you have.

[4] CCA Whitepaper, Global Complaints Strategies, December 2011

[5] CCA Verint Report ‘One Step Closer to Customers, November 2011